Saturday, January 24, 2015
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Monday, January 5, 2015
Building a healthy framework for social justice is more than just a notion. It takes time, dedication and understanding. This chapter begins forcing me to look at my experiences in social justice involvement. I had to consider my emotions as I was going through the activities, protest and other outings. Well, the "educators journey" can only be described as growth both personally an within the communities that you serve. That is; if you are serious about building this safe place for social justice to flourish. These grass root issues are about forcing yourself to be valuable know that the process of teaching others will be the plot form which you are taught.
Looking at my experiences as a facilitator, I see a few of my major flaws in my thinking and reaction that can only be addressed by really submerging myself into the core components that govern social justice education. Before, I was a participant. I could just listen or ignore other people's opinion. I was more concerned with others hearing what I had to say and changing their opinions to mirror mine. it never really occurred to me that their narrative reflected who they were and where they stood. Now, I have to listen. I have to be impartial and I have to genuinely care about what is being said and in what context is it said. I use my own education and my own experiences to be transparent and open enough that other feel like they can learn in a safe environment.
Before a conversation can occur; everyone must be on the same page (i.e define key terms in Social Justice). Some may say that this is a given but this one of the most important things we are fighting for and what concepts we are fighting against.
There are three types of oppression:
- Institutional: Social institutions such as education, politics, media,economy, healthcare, religion, family etc.
- Cultural: Societal norms, values, icons, ideologies, aesthetics, lore, jokes, music pop culture and shared beliefs.
- Individual: Personal beliefs, behaviors and interpersonal interactions.
Without this knowledge; it is hard to gage if the conversation is progressing successfully or are tensions rising.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Cincinnati, along with other urban cities, has been ground zero for heinous acts of police brutality. We, as a city, are responding. Aside from public demonstration, the Peasley Center hosted a Teach-In. This was intense and had the feel of a RAPPORT meeting only amplified. This was my first Teach-In ever and I feel connected. It was like being plugged into a new system. Each person came from their own world with their own understanding of the system. World-view: POWERFUL. The fact that we all brought a piece of our world here for the same reason is enough to cause chills.
So, the question is this: WHAT CAN WE DO TO FIX A BROKEN SYSTEM?
The first thing is to stay engaged. Social change is in our reach but we have to first engage in grass-root discussions to know what is being done and what can be done.
1) Service-Work with grass-root organizations to meet the basic needs of others and yourself.
2)Activism- Force others to see you and why your issues matter.
3)Community/Education- Involve the people who are effected the most. Educate everyone of the laws but also listen to what the people want and need. Make information available for everyone.
4) Advocacy- Bring together every person and every world view to create one voice to empower the powerless.
5)Public Policy-Realize that all policies come from people standing up for their beliefs.
We can do this. My challenge to you is this: Challenge the mythical norms and see beyond the surface. If you feel that an injustice is being done, speak out and if you don't see the problem; look again.
Well that's my rant for today. Stay connected
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Okay, Chapter twelve was pretty interesting. It talks about training and supporting peer leaders and facilitators. I didn't realize that so much usually goes into it. We've had minimal training here, and I think we've done a good job with it. The readings have been most of it. And then we're all supposed to blog two things we've learned from the readings. I generally blog most of what I've learned, with a summary. (I think that's because I'm generally a talkative person.) I can also consider my RAPP intensive as training, in a way. I don't remember everything from it, but I do remember some of it, and the mainstays. I remember the model we talked about, unconscious and conscious on one axis and individual, institutionalized, and societal/cultural on the other axis. I remember some of the rules, most importantly, no one's opinion has no value. Even the dominant narrative has value, because that is some people's lived experience.
I also wanted to talk about the feelings I feel about not being up to the challenge, as a white person. In the book, one of the things I really identified with was a student quote that said,
This was definitely something I thought about. I know I'm an extremely open minded person. I accept pretty much everyone as they are. But I wasn't sure I had the right perspective to facilitate social justice education with my dominant worldview. My antecedents aren't nearly as open minded. Both my grandparents on my dad's side and my dad himself were VERY prejudiced against black people. I don't understand their beliefs, and they didn't understand mine. I remember coming home from day camp at the age of four, confused as hell about why dark skin made a difference. (There was one little black girl in the group, and nobody wanted to partner her. I did, and enjoyed myself. She was funny. But we were both outcasts for that week. We had fun, but we were "outsiders" to the rest of the group.) My mom tried to explain that people fear what they don't understand, and she tried to explain to me why it makes a difference for some people. I've never understood it, and I don't now. After all, we're all human, so who cares what color a person is, or where they come from or what language they speak. Really, it's NOT that big of a deal. So why do people make such a big deal of it? (That's a theoretical question, because you probably understand it as much as I do.) I work with people from India and GB/England and Germany and the USA. All of those people are valuable to my team, and I know what value they have. Why on earth does it matter which part of the planet they were born in??? WHY? (Another rhetorical question.) But because I'm not marginalized in my racial identity, I was uncertain I had the skills to facilitate for social justice. (The weird thing is that several of my Big Eight are marginalized identities. Gender and Ability are the biggest ones, but I'm also marginalized in Socio-Economic Class. I think the rest of them are all dominant. And I have been discriminated against. Sometimes, even, here at UC. It was a memorable event for Brice and myself when, in a small group for our class, one of the men looked at me disparagingly and said, "So how did YOU get into IT?" (I don't think he liked it that I laughed at his prejudice, but I thought it was funny that he was so ignorant.) I did answer the question, and Brice and I were just amazed that he thought that was acceptable. Even with several occasions of being discriminated against, I still wonder if I'm "acceptable" as a facilitator for social justice education. So that really struck a chord with me.
It was interesting to see how much training some of the facilitators got. It seems that the book recommends substantial one on one training and support, and group support. We really don't get that here. I'm wondering if I really need to work on my skills in a group of facilitators. Maybe Brice, Ali, Tristen, and myself could get together with the peer leaders (Jacob, Shawnee, and Bridge) and do some facilitation practice with feedback coming on how we did facilitating and what we need to work on most in order to improve. It's a small group, but Tristen has plenty of experience, and Ali and I don't. Or, rather, I don't. He's been doing things with Brice during the week that I've not been able to do because of working. So I guess I'm the only one without a lot of experience. I want to do some work on this over the break, if I can, and see if that helps me become more... Confident, I guess. I need practice to really feel that I know what I'm doing, and two meetings really don’t do it. So we'll see how it all works out.
I think Brice has done a pretty good job with us though. It's hard for him since I'm co-oping cause I can't come in to the office when he's here, so we don't get much time together. It makes it hard for him to develop me and support me properly. I think things will go much better next semester when I'm in class and can be in the office more.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Chapter 5 is about whiteness and how it plays into racism. The chapter says something that interests me:
This really speaks to me, as a white person. Until RAPP, I was pretty much oblivious to the institutionalized nature of racism. I didn't know, I didn't see. And then I heard my RAPP buddies talking about it, and realized it is still there, it's just more subtle than it used to be. When I was on campus the first time, from 1990-1992, I was very aware of racial tensions. It was hard not to be. Insults were exchanged, and sometimes blows, over racial insults and slurs. It was not a riot, but the racism was overt. But now... Now it's much more subtle, and you can ignore it if you choose to. It was a hard thing for me to admit I have privilege, but now, if I can use that privilege to do something good, I'll be happy to have it.
The chapter also talks a little bit about one of my favorite topics: Intersectionality. I love how everyone is different in the way that their identities intersect with each other. There could be two people with the same identities that are totally different because those identities intersect differently. And I think that's an awesome thing. It's an amazing feeling to be able to be yourself. I've learned that over the years, to be myself. Trying to be someone you're not is uncomfortable and difficult. You end up lying to others about what you think and feel, and presenting a false front to people. I tried to fit in for a lot of years, but now I'm out of the closet, so to speak. I say what I think and think what I say. If you don't like me, that's your loss. That's part of the reason I'm so proud to be partnered with Ali. As a trans man, he is being who he is, even when it's so difficult. I find that his courage inspires my own, in many ways. It makes me more willing than ever to be myself, even if I am a bit weird.
The last thing I want to talk about from the chapter is the way whiteness is homogenized. For some reason, many people, both white and of color, dismiss white people as all being the same, not being a diverse group in their own right. This is seen in people talking about a diverse group when it's white people mixed with people of color. It's like white people can't be diverse among themselves. I don't really think this is done consciously, but it can be a problem. We do need to realize that whites can be as diverse as people of color can be. We need to recognize, as facilitators, that all people are diverse. It seems to me (and this is just my opinion) that there are whites and then other. And other is a diverse group, while whites is not. We're all lumped together, despite having different antecedents and characteristics. I hadn't realized it till it was pointed out to me, but diverse can have many meanings.